Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Review

Type Reflector
Aperture 150 mm (6 inches)
Focal Length 1200 mm
Mount Dobsonian
Accessories 1.25 inch focuser (rack-and-pinion), EZ Finder II aiming device, 1.25 inch Sirius Plossl eyepiece, quick-collimation cap
Focal Ratio f/8.0

Orion is a big name in astronomy that is often pegged as one of the best telescope brands. Many beginner astronomers start with an Orion telescope. Dobsonians are also a point of interest to many stargazers and are so popular in amateur astronomy that it is safe to say that they are a standard. So how does the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian fare? It has a lot to live up to. Here is a breakdown to help you determine if it is worth it.

Overview

The Orion SkyQuest XT6 can be considered a starter Dobsonian. Its features are simple but efficient, and its price is perfect for absolute beginners or those working on a budget.

This telescope contains a 150 millimetre parabolic primary mirror, which is capable of gathering approximately 80 percent more light than 4.5 inch reflectors. This means that you get more for your money when it comes to deep sky objects, and can easily observe nebulas, star clusters and even galaxies in higher detail. Planets and the moon are particularly defined.

If you look at Jupiter, you will be able to see its clouds, and in excellent conditions, could view its Great Red Spot. Jupiter’s brightest moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Calisto – are also easily observable with this telescope. You will also be able to see Saturn’s rings, including the Cassini Division; as well as Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Mars is another treat seen through the SkyQuest XT6, with nice views of the planet’s basic surface features during good viewing conditions.

This model has been built for ease of use. Its primary mirror is marked for easier and more precise collimation, and a collimation cap is included with your purchase. Its moving parts, like its optical tubes, are installed and adjusted without hassle and are unlikely to stick or jerk while you handle them. This is thanks to the addition of non-stick PTFE/Nylon pads. It also features Orion’s CorrecTension, which balances the tube and enables more accurate adjustments, and prevents the telescope from slipping or traveling out of alignment.

Included with the telescope is a rack and pinion focuser, compatible with all 1.25-inch eyepieces and accessories. This focuser is designed for smooth adjusting and fine-tuning, regardless of what you are observing. To go alongside this, you also get the 1.25-inch Orion Sirius Plossl eyepiece which works well for high-contrast observation.

Next, there is the Orion EZ Finder II, for simplified aiming. It is easy to operate and benefits stargazers who do not have access to electronic equipment with automatic adjustments or tracking. To top everything off, you will get a quick collimation cap to help you align your mirrors, as well as dust caps to protect your optics.

Buy Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Review

The Orion XT6 is an excellent telescope, but beginners will benefit more from this one than seasoned or professional astronomers will. If it is your very first telescope (or your first Dobsonian), you probably will not find fault with it. However, if you are experienced in telescopes, you may find that this one leaves much to be desired, regardless of its quality.

This telescope is comfortable and easy to use. Though Dobsonians have a reputation for being cumbersome, the Orion XT6 has a simple, streamlined build that makes it surprisingly compact and portable. There is very little set-up required to get it up and running, and this process will be effortless even if it is your first time doing so. This telescope is as stable as it is smooth and is highly unlikely to vibrate, shake, hiccup or stick.

The XT6 is no exception to Orion’s quality, so the money you spend on it will be well worth it. Made of quality stuff, this model is likely to last you for many years to come, and with meticulous maintenance, might even last a lifetime.

Its parabolic mirrors eliminate aberration, so beginners will not have to deal with distortions, inaccuracies or other interferences. Speaking of its optics, there is no criticism, as the XT6 shines in this area and is perfect for basic deep sky viewing, revealing all of the most prominent clusters, galaxies, and nebulae.

Its accessories are also a treat for beginners. Though this telescope is quite basic in what it can offer, newbie astronomers will not miss a thing. All the standard tools, like the rack-and-pinion focuser, Sirius Plossl eyepiece, and EZ Finder II form a solid foundation for comprehensive and accurate stargazing. Another great thing about this telescope is that as you grow as an astronomer, you can easily upgrade your accessories (or optics) to suit your needs.

As for aligning your telescope, this is a reflector and will require occasional collimation. Orion’s instruction manual does an excellent job of walking you through it, so this will not be any trouble. The included collimation cap makes it even easier and is an affordable alternative to laser collimators.

Amateur astronomers will enjoy the views through this telescope. Its 6-inch aperture will present objects with amazing clarity. Favorites with this model include the Moon (and its craters) and all other planets in our solar system. Even Neptune and Uranus can be seen as vaguely colored (but still featureless) disks through the XT6’s near-perfect optics. You can also clearly observe comets, galaxies, globular clusters, open clusters and nebulae.

On the other hand, astrophotographers may not be satisfied with this telescope, but this is the fault of all Dobsonians and not necessarily a flaw of the XT6. Generally speaking, Dobsonian mounts are not capable of long exposure imaging. While it is possible to capture short exposure images with this telescope, it is better suited for observation than astrophotography.

The XT6 is a truly excellent telescope. It has everything you need for stargazing, is beginner and family friendly, and it is durable and easy to use. But, it may be a little bit too simple. Serious astronomers can still enjoy what the XT6 can do, but its limited accessories and capabilities will leave much to be desired (that, or it may be very refreshing to have an instrument so simple, streamlined and efficient). Following the above, this applies to astrophotographers as well. It is not to say that you will not be able to upgrade this model, but ultimately the money spent modifying it could easily amount to purchasing a telescope that is better suited to your advanced needs.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Fantastic optics, excellent for deep-sky viewing.
  • Makes a perfect starter telescope.
  • Standard accessories are bundled in.
  • Strong, steady build that is highly durable.
  • More portable than other Dobsonians.
  • An affordable option for all astronomers.
  • Easy setup, with clear instructions from Orion.
  • Room to upgrade and modify equipment.

Cons

Verdict

The Orion XT6 is highly recommended to beginner astronomers. Everything that you need to start off with is included in this telescope. Though the accessories are somewhat basic, they are well thought out by Orion and are designed to make getting started as easy as possible. The focuser, collimator cap, eyepiece, and EZ Finder II form a complete package that beginners will benefit from. Not only will it save you money in collecting everything you need, but it saves you time and hassle too.

The Orion XT6 is also a great place to start if you are making the switch to Dobsonians, and want to test the waters before investing in a more sophisticated or advanced model. Compared to other Dobsonians it can be considered compact, so it is also suitable for people or families with limited room.

However, professionals might want to give this one a miss. It is not built for astrophotography and modifying it to enable this will be expensive (if not impossible due to the Dobsonian mount). While its optics are wonderful, its accessories and controls are unlikely to be too limited and unsatisfactory for experienced or seasoned stargazers who prefer a higher level of sophistication from a telescope and its accessories.

That said, the optics of this telescope are spectacular and are bound to impress everyone; professional, beginner or casual astronomers alike. Deep sky viewing is a treat with the Orion XT6, so even if you are investing in this one as a novelty, you will not go wrong.

The Orion XT6 is best suited to astronomers who want to get set up with as little effort, or learning, as possible. It is also a top-notch choice if your budget is limited, but you don’t want to sacrifice quality. Though it is not as hi-tech as other models, it shines in the one area telescopes are meant to excel in: observation.

Buy Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

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